歌舞伎座新築へ 伝統芸能を発展させる礎に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 30, 2010)
Reinvigorate traditional performing arts
歌舞伎座新築へ 伝統芸能を発展させる礎に(4月29日付・読売社説)

The stage on which many fine kabuki actors performed some of their greatest shows is about to be reborn. The curtain will come down on the antiquated Kabuki-za theater in Ginza, Tokyo, with a closing ceremony Friday. The theater will be torn down and rebuilt.
新歌舞伎座のイメージ図 数々の名優たちの足跡を刻んだ舞台が生まれ変わる。東京・銀座の歌舞伎座が老朽化に伴う建て替えのため、明日の閉場式を最後に休場する。

The Kabuki-za, built with a grand architectural style evocative of the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1600), has been a cultural space and distinctive landmark in central Tokyo. Many people were surely saddened to bid farewell to the venerable theater.

The first Kabuki-za theater in Ginza was built in 1889. After the theater burned down several times, the present structure opened its doors in 1951.

A new Kabuki-za building will be completed in three years as a multifunctional facility that will house a new four-story kabuki theater and a 29-story office building.

Farewell performances at the theater, which lasted for 16 months, were filled to overflowing every day.


Interest reignited

Kabuki has entered a new phase of prosperity. Public performances are being well received at Shinbashi Enbujo in Tokyo, at the Minami-za in Kyoto, and at the Shochiku-za in Osaka.

This marks a turnaround from about 30 to 40 years ago, when kabuki was in a slump. At that time, some people harbored grave doubts about kabuki's future.

Since the mid-1980s, however, kabuki has regained popularity. Interest in kabuki has been rekindled by performances commemorating an actor's succession to the stage name Ichikawa Danjuro--the name of the person considered to be the founder of kabuki performed in Edo (present Tokyo)--and attempts to create new styles of kabuki, starting with "super kabuki," a combination of traditional kabuki with contemporary playwrights' work and modern stage technology.

Since the 1970s, the National Theatre in Tokyo has devoted considerable resources to training kabuki actors and musicians. Those who earned their stripes at the theater are now supporting the foundations of kabuki.

Everyday terms such as "nobetsu makunashi" (without intermission), "oozume" (the final act), and "ohako" (one's specialty) originated in kabuki. This brings home again the depth of Japanese language and the aesthetic sense of the Japanese people.


Laying the groundwork

Audiences can feel the actors' powerful performances or marvel at the elaborate stage sets all the more when they watch a show at the theater. If kabuki is performed at more local theaters while the Kabuki-za is being rebuilt, the traditional art's fan base will widen even further.

Such traditional performing arts as kabuki, noh plays and ningyo-joruri bunraku puppetry are registered on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritages. Although kabuki's popularity stands out among these performing arts, the origins and themes of all three are inextricably linked.

The revised Fundamental Law of Education stipulates that educators should instill a respect for Japan's tradition and culture in their students. Accordingly, the official guidelines for middle school teaching, for instance, say, "It is important to stimulate students' interest" in such classic performing arts as noh, kyogen, kabuki and rakugo comic storytelling.

Increasing opportunities for children to appreciate traditional performing arts will deepen their understanding of Japanese culture.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 29, 2010)
(2010年4月29日01時16分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-04-30 08:58 | 英字新聞

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